Fasting as an approach to discovering greater health is nothing new. Unlike other popular diet fads and trends, it has been used for thousands of years as a tool to gain greater physical health and find deeper spiritual connection.
While fasting has a lengthy history, it has recently become more of a star in the modern health and wellness scene. A broad term, to say the least, fasting encompasses a wide variety of approaches. Intermittent, circadian, OMAD, 5:2, juicing, and prolonged are just a few of the currently popular ways to fast.
Is Mimicked Fasting a Real Thing?
It certainly sounds too good to be true, but mimicked fasting is, in fact, fasting with food. Dr. Valter Longo, a longevity researcher at USC, is behind the over 25 years of research (including a $36M NIH grant for cancer research) studying mimicked fasting and the resulting effects.
Longo has discovered a very specific formula of nutrients that can be consumed without being detected by nutrient-sensing pathways, thus keeping the body in a fasting state and protecting against typical concerns of not eating, such as muscle wasting. The (roughly) 700 calories per day definitely doesn’t fill you up, but it certainly makes the fast far more attainable, especially for the short five-day period recommended.
Optimal Cellular Turnover
The research indicates that five days of mimicked fasting is enough to gain optimal cellular turnover. Throughout the fasting period, the body goes into conservation mode and purges old and damaged cells. Following this clean-up period, stem cells flood in to replace what was cleaned out. This means targeted healing and renewal specific to the needs of each individual body.
The most notable physical effects Longo’s observed from the five-day mimicked fast are decreased visceral fat, improved blood panel markers, lowered blood pressure, decreased inflammatory markers, and improved blood sugar levels.
The nutritionist in me was impressed by this research. The yoga and meditation teacher in me knew there was something missing.
Fasting as a Spiritual Discipline
Fasting is likely even more ancient as a spiritual practice than as a physical healing aid and has played a role in nearly every religion in the world.
[Read: “Christian Fasting: A Spiritual Practice for Now?”]
Being in a state of fasting connects us with simplicity,
with the cycle of nature, and with the power to choose mind over body. By shifting energy and focus away from the very physical nature of eating and digesting, more space is created for spiritual connection.
It seems like quite the missed opportunity to go through the process of a fast without also gleaning the benefits for mind and spirit.
And so, while the five-day mimicked fast heals and renews the body on a cellular level, the addition of a mindfulness practice adds the possibilities of reduced stress, improved sleep, increased cognitive focus, better immune function, and lowered anxiety levels.
Mimicked Fast + Mindfulness
Restore You integrates the five-day mimicked fast protocol with a set of mindfulness tools, including audio meditations, mindset and yoga videos for fasting, mantras, journal prompts, and more.
In addition to the support of a trained nutritionist, members are also invited to a private online group of fellow fasters. Whether fasting at the same time as the group or not, members are there to offer encouragement, tips, and accountability. Groups meet at the beginning of each season as a way to connect with and reflect upon the transition being made both in the body and in nature. A new seasonal menu is also released at this time.
[Read: “Is Now the Best Time to Fast? The Doctor Says Yes.”]
Most people choose to move through the fasting experience 2-4 times a year, following an initial period of fasting for one week per month for three consecutive months. However, how often to fast (or whether to do it at all) is a highly individualized decision, and you should always consult your doctor before altering your diet in such a major way.
The combined experience of fasting for both physical and mental renewal invites a shift in mindset that creates a platform from which new habits can form and connections to innate wisdom can deepen. Drawing this level of thought and care into our relationship with food and body helps to unwind culturally embedded patterns that do not promote health and replace them with intuitive guidance. In this way, true renewal—for body, mind, and spirit—can be achieved.
Want more food for thought? Check out how fasting can improve your mitochondrial function.